Bold start. Smooth finish. The newsletter that interesting people love.
Good morning! When things get tough, you need a cool head in charge. Today, you’ll meet the piano-playing politician at the helm of a surprising success story that’s soothing the economic world. Visit a country showing the way on gender parity in wages, hold your nose as the planet’s smelliest bird says hello, and check out the best from Day 2 of OZY Fest.
Charu Sudan Kasturi, Senior Editor, and Isabelle Lee, Reporter
U.S. President Joe Biden called for a cease-fire between Israel and Hamas amid a mounting death toll that includes 198 Palestinians and 10 Israelis. But Biden and the European Union remain cautious about openly criticizing Israel, which has indicated it plans to continue bombing Gaza. Meanwhile, rockets fired at Israel from Lebanon point to the risks of a broader regional escalation of the war. (Sources: NYT, FT, Jerusalem Post, Haaretz)
2. Abortion Test
The U.S. Supreme Court has agreed to hear a case involving a Mississippi restriction on abortions. If the court upholds the state’s law, it could pave the way for similar anti-abortion moves across the country. (Source: BBC)
3. ‘Arsenal of Vaccines’
That’s how Biden pitched America to the world on Monday, promising the export of an additional 20 million COVID-19 vaccine doses on top of 60 million shots that an initially reluctant U.S. has already committed to other nations. Meanwhile, the original “pharmacy of the world,” India, could use more help. It registered a record 4,329 deaths yesterday, and Venezuela’s pace of inoculation is so slow it would take the country 10 years to cover its population. (Sources: CNN, Al Jazeera, Reuters)
4. Blood Diamonds
British mining firm Petra Diamonds has agreed to pay $6.1 million in compensation to dozens of Tanzanian diggers who were shot at, thrashed, stabbed and chained to beds. (Source: Guardian)
5. Divorce Check
China has seen a 70% drop in divorces since it introduced a controversial new law this year mandating a “cooling off” period for couples before their split is legalized. But some experts worry the law might deter young couples from getting married in the first place. Do you agree with China’s strategy to address rising divorce rates? Vote here or on Twitter. (Source: Guardian)
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The 45-year-old finance minister of Estonia played the piano in college, served as foreign minister, andsince January is driving the economy of a tiny, post-Soviet nation that the world is watching as an inspiration. When the pandemic hit, the Baltic state already had99% of government services and 87% of classrooms online. And you can set up new businesses there from anywhere in the world, through e-residencies. The result? Its economy can remain as calm as the sound of the piano when others are struggling.
The land of Tintin and Hercule Poirot is often overlooked when we think about major European nations. But there’s plenty to learn from the country.
1. Unlikely Alliance Builder
Othman El Hammouchi is a religious Muslim who doesn’t hesitate to call out Belgium’s deep-rooted bigotry against non-white communities. But the 20-year-old — one of the country’s most prominent new philosophers — is also seeking a surprising partnership between Muslims and conservative Christians, who he believes share many of the same values, if only they realized it. Read more on OZY.
2. What Gap?
While women still earn less than men worldwide, Belgium is pretty close to closing the gender pay gap. In 2018, the gap was just 1.1%. That success results from regulating pay raises, so women and men working the same jobs get paid the same amount. Will the rest of the world take tips from Belgium? Read more on OZY.
3. Swoon-worthy Sinatra
Looking for a new artist to fall in love with? Try Belgium’s Frank Sinatra, Jaques Brel. The singer rose to fame in post-WWII Belgium. His most famous hit, “Ne Me Quitte Pas,” has been covered by Nina Simone and Sinatra himself. Read more on OZY.
These stunning creatures of nature will leave you wondering if they’re birds or bats, planes or dinosaurs.
All of the California condors alive today come from just 22 birds captured in 1987 for a breeding program to keep the species from extinction. These magnificently weird vultures can live for 60 years and have such a large wingspan that they are routinely mistaken for planes.
These bizarre creatures are the world’s only nocturnal, fruit-eating bird species. The cave-dwelling birds are native to Venezuela, and they use chin whiskers and echolocation to feel around in the dark. Bat or bird? You decide.
Deep in the Amazon lives the smelliest bird known to man. Sometimes referred to as the skunk bird or the stinkbird, hoatzins give off the charming scent of manure due to their multiple stomachs, a digestive system similar to cows. Baby hoatzins have claws growing from their wings, proving that birds really are descended from dinosaurs.
We’re thrilled to announce the winners of the 2021 OZY Genius Awards, with $10,000 grants for 10 U.S.-based college students with the brightest ideas. Meet an OZY Genius each day for the next two weeks.
Low-income students bear the brunt of structural bias. Non-white school districts receive up to $23 billion less than white districts. College attendance and admittance rates are lower for low-income students. Nellis’ genius idea? A new college prep structure that helps low-income students bridge the gap. Starting from her own YouTube channel, she has created a methodology she hopes to provide to Title 1 schools. To lend your support, tell us here.
OZY Fest: Party All Week
If Day 1 of OZY Fest was great, Day 2 on Sunday was even more sublime. Check out the best from 2021’s most happening festival.
Glimpse the future of cryptocurrencies with investment guru Jim Cramer and hear the ever-powerful rapper Sophia Chang and chef Ming Tsai take you deep into the fears and anger within the Asian American community over recent hate attacks. Hear how Nelson Mandela surprised former Secretary of State Condoleezza Rice and why Dr. Anthony Fauci wants America to revamp its health care to prepare for the next pandemic. Watch here.
2. Magic, Music and Meals
Make a meal of it with chef Ming Tsai, mix music with Marc Rebillet, hear Oscar and Grammy-winning 23-year-old musician H.E.R. and pick up a magic trick with John Stessel. Watch here.
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